Camden gets its own Olympic beer to mark London Games

Tucked away under the railway arches in Kentish Town, something special is brewing.

Bubbling away in the mind of Camden Town Brewery’s master craftsman Rob Gargan is a beer set to hit the streets of London next July to mark the return of the Olympics.

Mark Dredge, head of communications, has been delving into London Metropolitan University library’s archives to find a recipe for a beer made when London first hosted the Games in 1908.

Up until the 1920s, the now defunct Camden Brewery served up the Elephant Head Pale Ale to the capital’s visitors. Now the Camden Town Brewery hopes to recreate the special brew.

Mr Dredge said: “We’re going to go back to the history books to find out what they were making in 1908 and try to recreate that for next year.

“We’re hoping to find the hops and grains they used and do our best to copy the recipe – with our own tweaks of course.”

Mr Gargan – who has worked in breweries across the world for 10 years – says that brewing has changed somewhat over the last 100 years.

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“A pale ale is not the same as it is now – you couldn’t get the light malts like you can now,” he said.

“Looking at the old recipes is like reading poetry. Back then they described yeast like it was a member of their family. We’re still working on it but we’ve got a few other beers to make first.”

Fresh off the back of releasing its take on stout, the brewery in Wilkin Street Mews is planning on churning out up to eight new beers – including an Oktoberfest lager and a black Pilsner.

What started out as a pipe dream in the cellar of the Horseshoe pub in Hampstead has turned into a state-of-the-art brewery supplying some of London’s most exclusive restaurants.

Sitting alongside oven- roasted pigeon on the menu at Gordon Ramsay’s three-Michelin star Royal Hospital Road restaurant, the outfit has carved out an identity for itself as a brewer of fine keg lager.

The brewery’s best-selling Hells Lager takes more than five weeks to create, undergoing four weeks’ conditioning for the flavour to fully “round out”.

Mr Gargan says that the keg system lends itself to greater consistency.

He claims the flavour of Camden Town beer is such that it is sweet enough to be refreshing but leaves a bitter after-taste which sees punters coming back for seconds.

“There are 800 breweries in the country and about 97 per cent produce cask ale – so we have a hell of a lot of competition in that area,” said Mr Gargan. “We think people like ours because it’s a session beer.

“We want people to buy another immediately, rather than having to think about it.”

The brewery is set to start work on its in-house bar in the New Year with drinkers able to talk to staff and see the brewery in action when it opens up to the public in February.

Mr Dredge said: “We want people to be able to taste it, smell it and touch it. The brewers will be around to answer questions and you get that instant feedback from customers and, hopefully, we’ll feel more a part of the community.”